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Please, if you're a backpacker, don't...

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    ... come for a visit and start telling expats who live there what's what. I recently had this experience when I was in Savankhet where a French man who spoke fluent Laos was having a conversation with his girlfriend (or maybe wife) at a beer garden. Two kids, who had been in country maybe a week, starting mouthing off to this guy about how he was "exploiting the poor girl" and wasn't sensitive to local culture. Older men of means hooking up with younger women is normal in southeast Asia, it's what older Asian men do. It IS local culture. I found it all a little much to bear. Tourists (or travellers, or whatever they want to call themselves) are never going to know the culture or environment of the place they come to as well as expats who reside there. So while it is certainly true that there are boorish expats in these places, one must be very careful with assumptions. The whole incident was embarrassing for everyone involved except for the kids, who are the ones who should have really been embarrassed.

    #1 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 01:11

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  • neosho

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2008
    Posts: 386

    Happened to me in Chiang Mai. A drunk lady invited herself to our table and proceeded to call me a "sick sob". The lady I was with is 31 with 2 children.

    #2 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 04:35

  • BruceMoon

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    MADMAC

    Not all males in this world are mysogynist's, but some are and also do exploit others.

    I agree that 'imposing' one's values on another to the point of embarrassment is inconsiderate.

    In the example you cite, did you try and 'educate' said 'kids' to your reality? Maybe they could have understood your point of view.

    Cheers

    #3 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 05:40

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    Bruce
    To be honest, I'm not very fond of kids like that and I wouldn't have done it politely, so it was better I just kept my mouth shut.

    The lady who was with the French gentlemen gave them a dirty look, although I don't think she understood what was being said very well.

    Most of the backpackers up here are college kids who think they know everything about a place because they've read a book about it. I find them annoying and don't associate with them. In fact, as my language skills improve I find myself associating more and more with Thais and less and less with expats... but that's not because I don't like expats, it's just a question of numbers and having things in common.

    #4 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 12:37

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
    Posts: 950

    I agree Madmac. That is the sort of tourist we can really do without here in Laos. Bruce, why on earth should Madmac try to educate these boors?

    #5 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 15:49

  • 5acrefarmer

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    I once met a young western guy in Japan who was visiting because his parents "lived here for a week."

    We have to be a bit humble and meek when out of our home turf.

    #6 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 16:41

  • BruceMoon

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    Rufus

    In simple terms, I agree with you. But, I suggest this is a bit more complicated.

    Elsewhere, MADMAC has posted views that suggest he is supportive of older western men 'taking' local women. I got the feeling from several of his posts that MADMAC is a mysogynist. If I'm wrong, I apologise - but, in defence I merely point to the content of his various posts.

    I accept MADMAC's view that aged western men have younger local women as partners. In my mind, this fact does not justify the practice. I'm acutely aware that economically (even emotionally) challenged people do desperate things (both men and women).

    I was sort of hoping MADMAC would have tried to 'educate' those opinionated 'kids' to his point of view. To me, that he did not speaks volumes.

    Most of the time, live and let live is the key. Sometimes, one needs to stand up and be counted.

    I think on the issue of 'kids' letting fly versus oldies taking what they want, one has to stand up. Personally, even though I wasn't there, on the issue of older male westerners 'relating' with younger female locals I think my values points me in the direction of the 'kids'.

    Cheers

    #7 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 16:48

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    "Elsewhere, MADMAC has posted views that suggest he is supportive of older western men 'taking' local women. I got the feeling from several of his posts that MADMAC is a mysogynist. If I'm wrong, I apologise - but, in defence I merely point to the content of his various posts."

    Definitely not mysoginist, but also not an enemy of the sex industry which I simply regard as a fact of life and don't put a moral stamp on.

    "I accept MADMAC's view that aged western men have younger local women as partners. In my mind, this fact does not justify the practice. I'm acutely aware that economically (even emotionally) challenged people do desperate things (both men and women)."

    You will not Bruce I did not say "aged western men" I said aged ASIAN men. In short, if you have have the money, this is the cultural norm. If you want to attack Asian culture and say it shouldn't be this way, that's fine. But that's a pandora's box that is essentially saying "My (western) social mores are better than yours (eastern)".

    "I was sort of hoping MADMAC would have tried to 'educate' those opinionated 'kids' to his point of view. To me, that he did not speaks volumes."

    I didn't because I didn't want to create a scene, and they were pissing me off. It wasn't my fight at the time and even the French guy just acted disgusted.

    "Most of the time, live and let live is the key. Sometimes, one needs to stand up and be counted."

    I agree. This just wasn't one of those times for me.

    "I think on the issue of 'kids' letting fly versus oldies taking what they want, one has to stand up. Personally, even though I wasn't there, on the issue of older male westerners 'relating' with younger female locals I think my values points me in the direction of the 'kids'."

    See above. It's fine if you don't approve of that, just understand that you are taking a very western view on the subject. If you saw an older Asian man with a younger Asian woman, would your views be the same? Or do you only like the idea of "going native" when the issues are benign like food?

    #8 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 16:57

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    In up-country South Africa I have witnessed some white people speak to and treat black people in an appalling manner. Sometimes on discussing this I am told I don't understand South Africa, that that is how you have to treat 'these people'.
    Is this not the same kind of thing, seeing things through my wishy-washy liberal western eyes ? Or is it just that some people exploiting others is pretty awful wherever you come from.

    By the way, I do accept that not all Asian girls are being exploited...but a large percentage of the time I would guess they are.

    #9 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 18:24

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    "In up-country South Africa I have witnessed some white people speak to and treat black people in an appalling manner. Sometimes on discussing this I am told I don't understand South Africa, that that is how you have to treat 'these people'."

    Being racist and rude is never acceptable in my view. The Afrikaners feel they have to keep blacks down because black power scares them. Fothermore, innate feelings of superiority are deeply culturally ingrained there.

    "Is this not the same kind of thing, seeing things through my wishy-washy liberal western eyes ? Or is it just that some people exploiting others is pretty awful wherever you come from."

    Who is exploiting who? Is the girl who suckers the old guy out of all his cash and then dumps him the exploiter or is the guy who's getting the young nookie doing the exploiting?

    Asian women gravitate towards older men for a host of reasons, one very powerful one being financial. That is the cultural norm here. Again, you can say you consider this wrong, but that is of course making the base assumption that your moral viewpoint is superior to the Asian one on the subject.

    I'll give you another example. I have a close friend here who is a middle aged Thai woman. She finds the fact that her husband uses prostitutes acceptable so long as he is discreet about it and it doesn't otherwise intrude on their relationship. In her view "This is normal". She says she is less interested in sex now, and sex is for him a little boring for him with the same woman. Our ideals of romance reject this notion - but it IS the norm here. Who's to say they are wrong?

    "By the way, I do accept that not all Asian girls are being exploited...but a large percentage of the time I would guess they are."

    As are a large percentage of the guys. Girls swooning they love you, entire families pretending you are now part of the family for life, and as soon as the house is built and the car is bought you are out the door. It's a two way street. In fact, because legal protections for non-Thais are so unequal here, older white men are exploited in this way FAR more often than their asian counterparts.

    The bottom line is that this is the cultural norm here, and if you don't approve, you should really keep your opinions to yourself. In the same way I find it offensive when boorish expats who live here start to whinge about how everything in Thailand sucks. Either you are tolerant of the culture or you aren't.

    But for me the worst wasn't the fact that these two idiots didn't approve, it was that they were trying to make the arguement that what he was doing was culturally insensitive when in fact it fit right into the cultural norms.

    #10 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 19:14

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  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
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    So, if something's the cultural norm, then its always OK ?

    Actually, I have nothing particularly against older guys and younger women. If neither of them is forced into the relationship, then its up to them. The exploitation I was referring to was more the poor girls who are effectively forced into prostitution with no choice. Come on, we'ver all seen them in Bangkok, or wherever; lovely young Thai girl arm in arm with Mr 'Eastern women are for me. Those Western women have no idea how to treat a man'. Often, what he actually means, of course, is he's a complete failure when it comes to western women.

    #11 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 19:50

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    "So, if something's the cultural norm, then its always OK ?"

    I didn't say that. But if you are going to use cultural sensitivity in an arguement about behavior dos and don'ts in a country (and let's face it, a lot of people here do that) then you have to apply it to things you don't approve of.

    "Actually, I have nothing particularly against older guys and younger women. If neither of them is forced into the relationship, then its up to them."

    Bingo.


    "The exploitation I was referring to was more the poor girls who are effectively forced into prostitution with no choice. Come on, we'ver all seen them in Bangkok, or wherever;"

    Define "effectively"? If a girl is being forced by threats of violence to have sex with a man, that's rape, and I think we can all agree that's wrong. If a girl is making hard choices because of economics, that's not rape and it's not wrong. It's life. The money to feed her kid isn't going to fall off trees. Are you going to give it to her so she doesn't have to sleep with the fat guy?

    "Lovely young Thai girl arm in arm with Mr 'Eastern women are for me. Those Western women have no idea how to treat a man'. Often, what he actually means, of course, is he's a complete failure when it comes to western women."

    Frankly, having dated women from all over the planet, I prefer African women. But the problem I have with western woman (and why I would be very disinclined to date one - I can think of only one exception) is because western women are often very difficult. There is no role clarification. In western society roles have been attacked, yet male role expecatations often remain, and unpredictably so.

    But that exceeds the scope of this conversation. The sex industry in Thailand is OVERWHELMINGLY Thai with Thai. That western guy who can't score with western women is simply using the existing market to fulfill his requirements. What would you expect that guy who is "a complete failure with western women" to do in order to have sex?

    Lastly, come on, one of the reasons that western women resent those relationships is because they can't compete. Most asian women are thin, feminine, sweet... meanwhile, back home, everyone (men and women) are getting fatter and fatter, women are getting more and more difficult in relationships, more and more demanding. Sure, some guys can't get a western women, but don't kid yourself. Lots of them can, and choose an Asian woman because she fits the ideal they are seeking better.

    I married my wife first and foremost because I loved her, but there is no getting around the fact that she meets my ideal of how a woman should look and behave with her man. Now we've been together for ten years, so she's a lot less inclined to be fawning and so forth - that's normal. But she would NEVER disrespect me in public, if I ask her to do something she does it right away... meanwhile she expects me to make the money, to take care of her and her family... we both understand our roles.

    But back to the topic at hand, if you are someone who is inclined to shoot your mouth off or display your disapproval when you see an older western guy with a younger Asian woman, then you sure had better be doing it when you see and older Asian guy with a young Asian woman. Otherwise you are just being condescending and hypocritical.

    #12 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 22:53

  • BruceMoon

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    MADMAC

    You wrote:

    ..she would NEVER disrespect me in public, if I ask her to do something she does it right away.

    Mmmm!!!!!

    See, there's a value that is up for grabs - - - Good 'ole patriarchy.

    It is true that 'culture' is the fact of norms and values as the means to 'deal' with others. And, each 'culture' has its norms and values. But, norms and values are not set in stone.

    The 'difference' between the norms and values in one culture and those of another have been the basis of/for war for ages.

    But, western society - and I venture, now global society - is on a mission to determine a global set of norms and values. Rightly or wrongly, this 'universal' set of norms and values is witnessing the loss of small community norms and values to the larger or more dominant ones. For example, ethnic groups (originally from Yunnan) in Laos, Vietnam & Thailand are being forced to adopt the dominant norms and values of those nations. Same same Laos, Vietnam & Thailand to western norms and values.

    Cheers

    #13 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 07:55

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Thailand
    Posts: 871
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    Posted from within Vietnam.

    "Older men of means hooking up with younger women is normal in southeast Asia, it's what older Asian men do."

    I find this to be a bit of a generalization. While this practice is certainly common in Thailand, it's not in Vietnam. There, almost everyone marries within their general age group, and it's uncommon to see an older man with a young girl. I'd say that sight is more common in the US than here in Vietnam.

    Just, be careful when you use the term "southeast Asians" because you're talking about everyone from Indonesia to Burma to Vietnam and Malaysia.

    #14 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 10:59

  • Noggins

    Joined Travelfish
    26th May, 2009
    Posts: 24

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Hahah Madmac your reply made us smile
    In trying to defend your way of life..your ranting sexist reply revealed yourself to be the exact kind of westerner with an asian wife that everyone stereotypes you to be...
    You want a subservient wife, and Asia is indeed a much easier place to find that than in the Western world..just dont complain when people might question that its not true love...

    #15 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 12:00

  • Noggins

    Joined Travelfish
    26th May, 2009
    Posts: 24

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    P.s Though in relation to the original topic, right or wrong we agree publicly attacking people is not the way to go..especially when not in your own country...

    #16 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 12:05

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    Noggins
    "True love"... Either you aren't very old, or like my parents, you are very lucky. When it comes to "true love", MAC learned the hard way that that is the stuff of movies, not reality.

    My wife is close to my age, so I did not emulate the "Thai" or "Laos" (a nod to DLuek) model. But I have no doubt that while our early relationship was once of intense feelings, as it matured what has kept us together are practical considerations and mutual respect.

    "..she would NEVER disrespect me in public, if I ask her to do something she does it right away.

    Mmmm!!!!!

    See, there's a value that is up for grabs - - - Good 'ole patriarchy."

    Bruce, I am reminded of something I heard long ago. Between my wife and I, I decide the big issues: How to deal with the war in Iraq, how to solve global poverty and so on. She decides the small issues: What kind of car we are going to buy, which house to buy, etc.

    I am not her boss, and if she asks me to do something, I do it. The problem I had with western women, was in those relationships it was all me doing, all them telling. And this doesn't pertain to me alone. I don't know a single western man of my generation, not one, who is happily married. All trapped with kids, most getting no sex at all, wives harrassing them constantly. I do have a lot of western women who are friends (which is why my house is like a little bed and breakfast, people here all the time) but a friendship and a "romantic" relationship are not the same thing.

    I do agree that in the age of modern communications, there is some leveling of cultural values. That's fine, but fact is what this French guy was doing was well within the cultural norms of his environment and NO Laotians were objecting to it. And it was possible to tell the dynamic of their relationship. He was not doing the things people would have found offensive there: Groping her, kissing her in public, etc. He KNEW what the cultural norms were (obviously, he spoke Lao). These kids were objecting to their relationship and their relationship was within the cultural norms. The last thing they should have been harping on was his disrespect to Laotian culture!

    Coming for a visit to a foreign country and trying to tell people who live there what's what is ridiculous.

    #17 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 13:40

  • Noggins

    Joined Travelfish
    26th May, 2009
    Posts: 24

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Madmac- Well judging by your description of what you are looking for in a woman- which doesn't constitute anything like 'love'... i.e mutual respect, friendship, equality, something other than just sexual attraction..its hardly surprising you havent been 'lucky'.
    Just trying to explain why some people find these kind of relationships distasteful/strange..especially in countries where the women have hard lives anyway. We dont agree with hounding others in public..but you must be able to see why people hold those views.
    Also, just because you live in Laos, this does not make you the voice for the whole country/culture

    #18 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 17:26

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
    Posts: 950

    I don't thin madmac lives in laos, but rather Thailand. I live in Laos. I see what you mean Bruce....

    #19 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 18:10

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    "Madmac- Well judging by your description of what you are looking for in a woman- which doesn't constitute anything like 'love'... i.e mutual respect, friendship, equality, something other than just sexual attraction..its hardly surprising you havent been 'lucky'."

    I'm all for mutual respect, even with people whom you do not have a romantic relationship with. I certainly respect my wife, as she is a good person and a good mother to our daughter.

    Equality - that's an interesting one as men and women aren't equal. They are not the same. The pursuit of equality, in some ways has been very positive in western culture. Certainly women should be viewed as equal in the eyes of the law - at least in my view. But in relationships, our biology is different, and our strengths and weaknesses are different, and you ignore that at peril. My wife does not ignore that.

    Let me give you another example. I woke up last year to the worst headache of my life. It was two in the morning, the pain was brutal. My wife woke up, asked what's wrong. She called her sister who lived in the apartment next door, and her sister proceeded to massage my feet while my wife rubbed my head and gave me water (I was doubtless dehydrated - my own fault) until my headache was gone. Now, I will NEVER forget that. My previous wife would have rolled over and gone back to sleep. Now every time my sister in law has a headache, I rub her feet until she feels better. Well, I do when she's around, which isn't so often.

    "Just trying to explain why some people find these kind of relationships distasteful/strange."

    To be honest I think men who find them distasteful or strange do so because they are jealous or they know it's expected of them to do so.

    The women are jealous because they can't compete. So they resent it. Hence they feel the need to denigrate these relationships.

    "especially in countries where the women have hard lives anyway. We dont agree with hounding others in public..but you must be able to see why people hold those views."

    They hold those views because they're ignorant and judgemental. Certainly they're hypocritical when on the one hand they talk about respecting local culture when in fact they don't respect it (or at least elements of it) or they don't even understand it. Sort of like cock fighting, which is also popular here. If these same kids came upon cock fights would they "respect local culture" or would they denigrate it because it does not fit with their cultural norms? Do we only respect the aspects of local culture we approve of? If that's the case, then be honest - you don't respect local culture, just cute idiosyncracies. That's OK - but get off the bully pulpit.

    "Also, just because you live in Laos, this does not make you the voice for the whole country/culture"

    I don't live in Laos, I live in Thailand. And no, it does not make you the voice of that culture - BUT, AGAIN, what this man was doing was in synch with the cultural norms. If you took a poll, the vast majority of people in the country would say that their relationship is normal and that said age difference is not a factor.

    Same with sinsot. Most westerners would not approve of the idea of sinsot, but it is normal and deeply ingrained in this culture.

    Same with a woman marrying from a lower class - or even the class system here as it's constructed at all.

    Bottom line - a lot of people confuse the idea of respecting people in general with respecting culture, which they don't understand and if they really did they would not respect because it conflicts with their cultural norms in so many ways. Most of the tourists who come here to read about a beach or temple don't know much about Thai culture and if they did they would not respect it.

    #20 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 18:23

  • BruceMoon

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    To all,

    I wrote (above)...

    ...'culture' are the norms and values as the means to 'deal' with others. And, each 'culture' has its norms and values. But, norms and values are not set in stone. ...

    But, western society - and I venture, now global society - is on a mission to determine a global set of norms and values...


    To my way of thinking, this 'discussion' is an exchange of views on 'norms and values'.

    What MADMAC says, versus the view/s expressed by Luek, noggins, Rufus and others is merely an example of differing culture, norms and values.

    Put another way, MADMAC points to the current chauvinist ways of affluent Thai males to say that its 'normal' (there), and this (apparently) so gives him reason to say his behavioural choice to replicate chauvinism is OK.

    The 'others' say (expressly, or implicitly) that not only is chauvinism not 'normal', but also that gender is not a means to differentiate the means/way to treat/interact with people.

    Just like ethnic minorities having to 'deal' with dominant national 'agendas', so also do those living in a non-western nation have to 'deal' with the global (western norms and values) 'agenda'.

    This discussion shows that culture, norms and values in SE Asia is neither SE Asian, nor set in stone.

    Great discussion, keep it going...

    Cheers

    #21 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 18:36

  • Noggins

    Joined Travelfish
    26th May, 2009
    Posts: 24

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Well said Brucemoon...as for Madmacs constant need to say that all western men/women are jealous..are you trying to convice us, or yourself?
    I think most western women could bag themselves an old man in exhange for some cash..they might not to be too keen on the subservient bit though...and not all western men are like you, SOME of us are looking for a woman who we treat as our equal.As you keep mentioning looks etc so much, im wondering how you will cope if your wife ever loses her looks/figure? Im assuming she'll be out the door?Wow, she is lucky, wiat a minute..maybe we ARE jealous!

    #22 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 18:42

  • BruceMoon

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    Noggins

    Are you referring to me, or another?

    cheers

    #23 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 18:46

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    "Well said Brucemoon...as for Madmacs constant need to say that all western men/women are jealous..are you trying to convice us, or yourself?"

    I'm not trying to convince anybody. I'm just stating fact as I see it. This isn't about my relationship, as my wife and I are "age appropriate" and don't draw these sorts of criticisms. But it has happened to friends of mine, and I find it particularly obnoxious.

    "I think most western women could bag themselves an old man in exhange for some cash.."

    No thinking necessary on this one. They can, and some do. One friend of mine in particular comes here and picks up a different Thai man every vacation - and she doesn't even pay him. She loves the attention which far exceeds what she gets back in Europe.

    "they might not to be too keen on the subservient bit though"

    Which explains why so few western women marry Thai men. In my province there are only two.

    "...and not all western men are like you,"

    No, but all probably wish they could be.

    "SOME of us are looking for a woman who we treat as our equal.As you keep mentioning looks etc so much, im wondering how you will cope if your wife ever loses her looks/figure?"

    She lost her figure after our daughter was born.

    "Im assuming she'll be out the door?Wow, she is lucky, wiat a minute..maybe we ARE jealous!"

    That would demonstrate a lack of loyalty, and again a lack of understanding of Thai culture. In Thailand, men tend to abandon women. If they don't abandon them, then they just get a Mia Noi. Unless they're poor, in which case they're screwed.

    But I'm not Thai and I place a premium on loyalty. So I would never leave my wife, never kick her out the door, and I promised her no Mia Noi. We've been together ten years, so it's less and less likely we'll split up. But that does NOT mean I don't respect men who've chosen other paths. And that's the difference.

    Again, for me it comes down to whether or not you respect the cultural norms (doesn't mean subscribe - not the same thing) or you don't. My Thai friends ALL have Mia Nois. ALL. Just the way it is here. If I was harping on them about Mia Nois and Cock fights (which I also don't like) and so forth, I'd have no Thai friends at all.

    What is irritating about the backpacker crowd is they want to hassle the white guys, but ignore the Asian guys doing the same thing.

    #24 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 18:57

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    I am sure there are many men who would like nothing more than a subservient wife. Someone who does much of the work, while the man sits around considering the great imponderables of the day. Indeed, there are many cultures where this exists and the men, I am sure, don’t want it to change.

    Western culture has moved more towards equality. I am sure women will argue we are not there yet, but huge strides have been made in the last 50 or 100 years. With any social change though, there are victims; some women have become confused by ‘trying to have it all’. i.e. a family and a career. Some men have seen their role diminished, their power threatened, their masculinity challenged. They fail to cope well with women’s increased confidence and independence.

    Unsurprisingly, many relationships, where people fail to adapt, break down. On occasion, the parties involved can blame ALL the opposite sex. I have heard women say ‘I’ve had it with men. They’re ALL b---ards.’ Men ‘I’ve had it with women; nag, nag, nag’ etc.

    Usually these feelings disappear when they meet someone else; but for some they never fully go away. I guess some men will try to find their ideal of a woman in a different culture. Someone who doesn’t argue, who doesn’t question you too much, who does as she is asked. Love ? Not much to do with it, really. It seems to me more of an economic transaction.

    Now, if nobody gets hurt, I’m not really bothered that much. What DOES bother me though, is where someone (usually the poor girl) is exploited. Unfortunately, Thailand has many girls in this position. That, in turn, brings in the worst kind of sex tourist.

    #25 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 20:21

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "I guess some men will try to find their ideal of a woman in a different culture. Someone who doesn’t argue, who doesn’t question you too much, who does as she is asked. Love ? Not much to do with it, really. It seems to me more of an economic transaction."

    Guess what marriage is? A buisiness transaction. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Marriage is ALL about property ownership and division of assets when it's owned. That's why it's a legally binding document and we don't just live with people we love. There isn't a single thing that marriage provides that isn't about buisiness. Anyone can fall in love, move in together, have children together - but marriage is a CONTRACT. All the rest of the language around it is BS. This is demonstrable. Have a wife who is unfaithful while you are deployed to a combat zone, come home, try and work it out, have her unfaithful again while you are gone for a few days - file for divorce and watch your hard earned money go out the door, lose your house, lose your kids and then come back and tell me it's not a buisiness contract. Anyone who thinks it's anything other than that is living in fantasy land.

    "Now, if nobody gets hurt, I’m not really bothered that much. What DOES bother me though, is where someone (usually the poor girl) is exploited. Unfortunately, Thailand has many girls in this position. That, in turn, brings in the worst kind of sex tourist."

    Well the poor girl is making a choice. Maybe a hard choice, but a choice. If the sex tourist didn't come here, or was very actively discouraged by the Thai government, then guess what - that poor girl wouldn't even have a choice. For some of these women this means no clothes for the kids, not enough food, etc. I know one woman in particular who has three kids and her husband took off. Now she is just flat out not good looking, so she can't make money hooking, so guess what, those kids run around in trashy clothes, they have a bad diet, if they get sick medical care is harder to come by (in spite of the 30 baht program). That sex tourist is putting money directly into the capital flow of the poor.

    Yes, some are gross, but for others, this is their only chance to have sex at all - they are ignored by woman back in their home countries because they aren't good looking, don't have a high paying job, don't have good social skills, etc. I guess the politically correct crowd would be happy if they were just stuck in lonely lives, drunk in a bar somewhere, with no chance for any kind of sexual outlett at all.

    #26 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 20:56

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    I guess I always knew that there must be a guy with a heart in there somewhere. Apologies if I brought back painful memories for you. Sometimes forums can make people appear emotionless and two-dimensional. Just words on a page and we don’t really ever get to see the full picture.

    My understanding of many of the sex workers in Thailand is they were ‘sold’ into prostitution (often by their families, who believe they are being sent to work in restaurants, or whatever). They then have to work to repay the debt. I’m sure that isn’t always the case, but things I’ve seen and read suggest that to be so.

    #27 Posted: 11/6/2009 - 21:47

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    I have read about being "sold" into prostitution here, I haven't seen it. Certainly the vast majority of the girls servicing tourists are free lancers - that's why so many end up marrying their customers, because they are free to do so.

    Now, pedophiliacs - a different story there. I don't know anyone prepared to defend that activity.

    I have also heard of human trafficking here, but my own personal experience with Laotian and Vietnamese here is that they come of their own volition. Now, I'm not chasing hookers, since I have a good wife, but I certainly get to talk to a lot of them. I'm not seeing any who are being held here with force, although I'm sure it exists. Again, I don't think anyone would defend that as within the "cultural norm". It's not. It's criminal activity.

    So we come back to what's culturally acceptable here, and certainly a 50 plus year old man maintaining a relationship with a 20 plus year old woman is within that norm here. If you don't think it's "right", that's fine. But if you are going to be a kid with a big mouth, then be consistent and make sure that big mouth is open when you see a 50 plus Asian man with a 20 something Asian woman.

    #28 Posted: 12/6/2009 - 04:07

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
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    Some points. I have a Laos wife and there is a considerable age difference between us. Anyone who says Laos women are subservient is in for a big shock, lol. Most Laos women control the purse strings in the household. The husband hands over the paycheck and the wife pays the bills etc. The only ones i know who give the wife an allowance are westerners, (and not all of them). I do agree with madmac in that Thai and Laos women are very respectful and loving towards their husban. There is nothing sexist about that either. Respect is not subservience.

    Madmac is correct when he says most Thai/Laos men play around. Thats just the way it is here. My next door neighbour, (Laos), gets berated by his wife for going off for a quickie every now and then.

    "My understanding of many of the sex workers in Thailand is they were ‘sold’ into prostitution (often by their families, who believe they are being sent to work in restaurants, or whatever). They then have to work to repay the debt."
    Sorry Nokka, but that is absolute crap. While what you say may be true for some, especially on the Thai/Burma border, most girls are in it to make money for themseves or their families. Many of them really enjoy the bargirl life. They get to stay in good hotels, eat good food, have a lot of fun and make some money. I personally know of many who have gone back to the bar life simply because they miss it, not out of necessity.

    Sinsot. Now there is a topic in itself. I used to think this was a really bad idea, now I am not so sure. The idea behind it is to provide a measure of security for the girl if the husband decides to leave. There is also a measure of security, (penalty clause if you like), for the husband. Many engagement contracts provide for a payment to the prospective bridegroom should the girl change her mind about getting married.

    #29 Posted: 12/6/2009 - 09:27

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
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    So, I'm talking 'absolute crap'. Followed immediately by an admittance that it is true for some.

    Well a very quick google brought up lots of stuff about this problem.

    www.uri.edu/artsciwms/hughes/thailand.htm

    On example, but there are lots. Why are you guys in denial about this issue ? I am aware that even in my hometown in UK there have been raids on brothels using trafficked girls. Are you seriously saying it is not an issue at all in Thailand ?

    #30 Posted: 12/6/2009 - 15:34

  • Noggins

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 24

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    'Yes, some are gross, but for others, this is their only chance to have sex at all - they are ignored by woman back in their home countries because they aren't good looking, don't have a high paying job, don't have good social skills, etc. I guess the politically correct crowd would be happy if they were just stuck in lonely lives, drunk in a bar somewhere, with no chance for any kind of sexual outlett at all.'

    What about all the lonely women in Western countries..i feel sorry for them with the amount of old men who aren;t satisfied with companionship,friendship, good conversation- but run off to perv on girls half their age who they have nothing in common with.

    Exploitation and trafficing of women takes place all over the world, you can dress up prostitution however you want..but at the end of the day, men who use prostitues are paying to rape someone..these women dont want to have sex with these men, yes they are consenting, but by neccesity.Often these women have little or no choice...and no amount of money can make up for that.This is not ALWAYS the case but for you to deny this exists is beyond belief when it is such a massive worldwide problem is an insult to the women who suffer every day

    #31 Posted: 12/6/2009 - 15:58

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
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    "men who use prostitues are paying to rape someone."

    Nokka, sorry, but now you are talking even more crap than before. Really, offer these girls a choice and half of them will stay as a bargirl. You don't even address that issue.
    You don't live here. Some of us do. You don't even consider the comment I made about my next door neighbour. The fact is, westerners have a much greater hangup about sex than asians do. For asians it is part of life.

    #32 Posted: 12/6/2009 - 18:33

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
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    Nokka
    Rufus is closer to reality than you are on this point. My sisters in law hook, and one of them does not have to. Even the one that needs to for monetary reasons still could avoid it if she changed her lifestyle.

    "On example, but there are lots. Why are you guys in denial about this issue ? I am aware that even in my hometown in UK there have been raids on brothels using trafficked girls. Are you seriously saying it is not an issue at all in Thailand ?"

    The reason there is a lot of carping on trafficking (and this is certainly a bigger problem in the Balkans, and hence Europe, than Thailand) is because the feminist movement is working hard to tie prostitution to trafficking. Otherwise, to oppose it, they would have to basically say women are not competent enough to make their own choices on the issue - and they could never say that. So instead the drive is to link it to other crimes.

    Bottom line: Bar Girls here are almost all (and I am sure there are exceptions) free to leave the industry. They are not being held by force. Obviously, since they mostly have their own apartments, since they often leave the bar with their customers for days at a time, and since they sometimes marry those customers, they are not being held against their will.

    "What about all the lonely women in Western countries..i feel sorry for them with the amount of old men who aren;t satisfied with companionship,friendship, good conversation- but run off to perv on girls half their age who they have nothing in common with."

    I can't tell you how many times I have heard women say "there are no good men out there" when I know some of them. I'll point out these guys and there's always an excuse why he's not acceptable.

    If I wasn't married, there is one western woman out there I have a deep affection for. She'd be my first choice. But if that didn't work out, there is NO WAY I would hook up with a western woman. Why? Where's the up side?

    #33 Posted: 12/6/2009 - 19:11

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
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    Rufus, it wasn't me who said prostitution is rape. Please look who the poster is before saying they talk crap.

    All I've tried to do is point out that a number of the prostitutes are being exploited. You seem to either ignore this, deny this is the case or claim it is some feminist plot against the poor old sexpat.

    I think you've said enough for readers of this thread to make up their own minds where thay sit on this issue.

    #34 Posted: 12/6/2009 - 20:46

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Thailand
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    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Yet another sweeping and ill conceived generalization here:

    "The fact is, westerners have a much greater hangup about sex than asians do. For asians it is part of life."

    If you live in Laos or Thailand, you should refer to the people you know about as 'Thai' or 'Lao'. Asia is a pretty big place, and I hardly think you're qualified to speak for billions of people in dozens of countries. When I see generalizations like that, I know I'm reading about one thing and one thing only - ignorance.

    #35 Posted: 12/6/2009 - 21:35

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    DLuek makes a good point here. There are a lot of different cultures and attitudes in Asian. I find the Vietnamese to be completely different from the Thais, for example. And The Chiense are different from both. And certainly the Japanese different from all of them... and so forth. The Germans have more in common with the Japanese than the Japanese have in common with the Malay, for example.

    It's an easy generalization to make, but it's not an accurrate one.

    Having said that, back on the subject of the Thais, their attitudes towards sex are conflicted. On the one hand, they are conservative, eschew public displays of affection, and verbally profess to be conservative. On the other hand, they are liscentious and have casual sex often. Prostitution is certainly not considered an "honorable profession", but most of the girls who engage in it are doing so for some very practical reasons, will do so away from friends and family where they can maintain a level of denial to save face, and are generally not scorned when they reintegrate IF they do.

    Generally speaking, when a young woman hooks up with a much holder man, she does so for financial reasons. This is true in any society, but much more common in Thailand and Laos than it is in Europe or the US. It is also more socially acceptable in Thailand and Laos. The fact is, in these societies, this is OK and being judgemental about it demonstrates either ignorance or disregard of local cultural norms.

    As a general rule I don't think it's appropriate to go into someone elses home and start telling them what's what. For the expats who live here, this is their home. Tourists are intelopers who by definition are likely to have far less understanding of local cultures and norms. Worse still is to target the westerner for his (or her) behavior while ignoring the exact same behavior of an Asian. This is simply condescending and hypocritical. If a westerner adopts local culture in ways you approve of you laud him, but if he (or she) does so in ways you don't approve, you chastize him (or her) - all in the name of not respecting the culture.

    #36 Posted: 13/6/2009 - 13:24

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
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    "All I've tried to do is point out that a number of the prostitutes are being exploited. You seem to either ignore this, deny this is the case or claim it is some feminist plot against the poor old sexpat."

    I haven't said anything about it being a feminist plot. You are confusing me with madmac. Whle i conced that there are some women who are exploied and trafficed - and I have said thi before - these cases are primarily close to the Burmese border or involve Europeans who traffic Asian women to European countries.

    #37 Posted: 13/6/2009 - 14:24

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Australia
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    To all...

    I wrote, above:

    This discussion shows that culture, norms and values in SE Asia is neither SE Asian, nor set in stone.

    The discussion in the second part has (largely) centred on the liberal/ relaxed/ tolerant attitudes of Thai people towards sexual exchange (and all that that implies). I also note that this attitude doesn't appear as prevalent in Laos or Cambodia.

    I can't help but wonder whether this:

    * is a function of Buddhism and (new) prosperity. That is to say that the prosperity 'enjoyed' since the 1960's has led people to drop the norms typically traditional of cohesive society, or

    * is merely opportunism within a society where Buddhism teaches tolerance, or

    * has been condoned by the Thai elite and has become entrenched in Thai society,

    * or some other explanation.

    I'd be interested to read your replies.

    Cheers

    #38 Posted: 14/6/2009 - 05:59

  • Rufus

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    Location Laos
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    I don't know Bruce, hard to say. I would think that tolerance has a good deal to do with it. The tolerance towards sex is certainly prevalent in Laos by the way. we tend to be a bit repressed in the West - may well have to do with the remnants of that stiff british reserve for those of us who come from a Brit background.

    #39 Posted: 14/6/2009 - 07:37

  • BruceMoon

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    Rufus

    I suggest the western 'values' on sex is more about patriarchy in that women have traditionally been viewed as 'property' with 'rights'. And now, sex is a 'property right' of a relationship - something one partner cannot distribute freely!

    Still awaiting ideas from other expats living in SE Asia.

    Cheers

    #40 Posted: 14/6/2009 - 09:38

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
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    Bruce
    Obviously how men and women relate to each other has roots most often in patriarchy. This is tied to mens physical superiority in terms of strength. Physical dominance led to cultural dominance in most societies for a long time over most of the planet. I found it far stronger in Somalia, for example, than in western societies. And it is certainly stronger in Thailand than in Western Europe or the US as well - hence the norm of the Mia Noi.

    I found Laos to be just like Thailand in this regard with the exception that it is a touch more discrete and the legal constraints are more substantive. But I have spent very few days in Laos where I was not propositioned. I have not been to Cambodia, so I can't comment.

    In Africa it's a lot like Laos. Lots of women will hit on you, usually it's a bit more discrete than in Thailand. In Thailand it happens to me just walking down the street - any street, anywhere.

    Western societies have more stringent sexual mores tied to the Judeo - Christian tradition. This is true in Muslim societies too, but plural marriage adds a dimension there not in existence in the west (the Mormons not withstanding).

    For me, however, the question is not whether or not you agree with Thai sexual mores such as they are, but whether you respect them as part of culture. Whether or not you like them, if someone lives here why would you expect that someone to "respect Thai Culture" when you agree with the cultural norm but not respect Thai culture when you don't? And why would you expect an expat here not to indulge in this cultural norm which for him is a positive but then engage in other cultural norms which for him are negatives just because they suit your world view? That's where I have the rub. Being "Kie Neeau" "sticky shit" or a cheap skate is considered poor form in Thailand, and yet you see everyone here looking for "bargains", almost not recognizing that those bargains come at the expense of cheap labor. The reason you can stay at a very cheap guest house is because the materials for it and the labor to build it were constructed with people working for 100 to 300 baht a day. But nobody is concerned about this form of exploitation - just whether or not you are getting laid. Who's more exploited, the girl who makes 1,500 baht for having sex with a guy, or the girl who's making 100 baht selling coconut milk all day on a beach to tourists? The reason we consider one exploitative and don't give a thought to the other is because our morals, directly determined from our religious roots, find one morally problematic and one not. We tie emotion to sex, and then give the act a moral aspect. But some people don't do this. Even a lot of western people don't do this anymore, but I would venture that the majority of your backpacker crowd does when it comes to sex for sale. In that group you tend to find this attitude "There's nothing wrong with sex between consenting adults - marriage is not important" But "There's everything wrong with a woman selling herself to man for sex" (not sure where they come down on men selling themselves to men). They see the former as free will, the latter as exploitative. I do not.

    My son had a friend here who met a girl at a club, she acted like his girlfriend for a week and when he was getting ready to leave (and they were the same age) she asked him for her money. He said "For what?" She said "For f@#k"!! He saw it as a budding relationship, she saw it as a buisiness arrangement. Who was exploiting whom? This is where two cultures are in direct conflict.

    #41 Posted: 14/6/2009 - 13:18

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    ttt

    #42 Posted: 1/8/2009 - 12:42

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    TTT

    #43 Posted: 27/10/2010 - 17:52

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
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    Trying to stir up a discussion, Mac?

    #44 Posted: 28/10/2010 - 16:46

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
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    Is this the room for an argument ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

    #45 Posted: 28/10/2010 - 19:36

  • neosho

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2008
    Posts: 386

    LOL Rufus...I read this again yesterday and thought the same thing. I will say I'm with you and Madmac on the subject.

    #46 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 06:59

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
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    Well, the board has been boring lately... trying to get some converation started.

    #47 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 12:11

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 771

    Well, let me give it a try then.

    I've seen some of the posts and I would like to highlight one point regarding trafficking and the free will of the girls.
    I don't think the majority of the girls are in the business by choice.

    People have posted here that they are free to go as they please. Yes that's true but my guess is that's mainly in the western "entertainment" areas and as stated before by many that is only a small portion of the market.
    Girls in the "chicken farms" and "local" brothels are not that lucky and my guess is that that's where the majority works. When you pass some of those places (Phnom Penh for instance where I've seen some myself) the girls do not look so happy and many girls find themselves in a bad deal.
    They may have come to the big city to find a job but might have been forced (economically) to work for a pimp and loose quickly their freedom.

    A few months ago I hired a woman (not a sex worker) who had sold her 3 month old baby. She was able to buy her baby back but I think you can imagine what would have happened with that baby in the future if she hadn't bought it back.

    I even heard of special "training camps" for ladyboys where boys are put into women-clothes at a young age and so on. Not sure if this is true. But I wouldn't dare to say that the majority of prostitution in this region is all sunshine.

    #48 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 13:08

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Eastwest
    Since I live WAY off the beaten path, and not anywhere near any western entertainment areas, my contact is almost exclusively with girls who work the local market. I can assure you that most of these girls are there of their own volition. In fact, a large number have come from Laos and on my border runs I see them applying for a work permit and visa. They are easy to identity. At any time they could just not get on the bus and go home. Nobody was forcing them physically to do anything. Like most working girls, their choices are driven by economics.
    I am not saying it forced prostitution doesn't happen here - but it is by far the exception, of that I am certain.
    There are two issues here, of course. One is the annoying kids trying to pontificate on a subject they know zero about with people who might have a touch more experience and drawing conclusions based on observation which can easily be fully eroneous and making obnoxious fools of themselves in the process. The other one is the issue of prostitution itself, and again, this issue has been tied to trafficking (where kidnapping and human trafficking are already serious crimes everywhere in the world) because there is an agenda against the practice itself by a movement (the feminist movement) which finds itself in a quandry and can't come out and say what it really thinks - that women should not be free to prostitute themselves under any circumstances.

    #49 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 13:48

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
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    Agree with Mac on this one. The working girls I have come into contact with have gone into that job because they wanted to.

    #50 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 14:24

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 771

    But my point was more this:

    The ones that you can talk to are more likely to be working there out of free will and free to talk.
    It's the ones that you don't get to talk to.

    It's a bit like talking to prisoners. The ones they (prison management) let you talk to are more likely to say decent things about their "stay" than the ones that are in solitary confinement and get tortured and you will never get to speak.
    An analogy that isn't correct but presumably brings the point across. No need to point out the differences (re freelancers etc.)

    #51 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 15:20

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 1557

    Maybe this is one Madmac can answer.
    Many many years ago, I recall that every Thai town, even the small ones had rows of shanty-shacks filled with girls mostly from Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces.The girls were bought from their families and I was often told that it wasn't from need but greed.As a father would look over the road and see the neighbour doing up his house and buying a new cow when his daughter returned from 'working' away.Now the girls had to work their contract off and eventually went home, they were not mistreated and like good Thai daughters they did what they were told was for the good of the family but they were never given a choice, they were sold. In all fairness if this wasn't slavery it was certainly indentured labour and the girls weren't there by choice.
    A totally different scene started during the Vietnam war as word spread about the big money girls were getting for 'befriending' the soldiers at the U.S bases in Isan.This scene gradually spread to Sukhumvit/Pattaya, the R&R centres at the time.These girls were for the most part from Isan.
    I think that what pisses me off is the way that some backpackers get on the backs of sex tourists who mostly deal with freelancers with no compulsion and who probably enjoy the lifestyle as well as the money their 'boyfriends' offer while at the same time make no effort to understand the far worst local scene.
    The same situation exists in Cambodia.

    #52 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 15:22

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 771

    For clarities sake: I completely agree with most here about the backpackers sticking their nose in this business without knowing anything about it. But I think that's been well covered now and most people agree on that here.

    I find sayadian's point interesting since it leads to the basics of the cultural diffferences.
    In most asian cultures a daughter is considered less valuable than a son. If you take this as a fact it's also more likely that you have those situations as sayadian describes above.
    The son can stay at home, take over the family business and play around and the daughter(s) has/have to somehow bring in some money and my perception is then that with such a culture it could lead more easily to such criminal situations.

    #53 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 15:56

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "The ones that you can talk to are more likely to be working there out of free will and free to talk.
    It's the ones that you don't get to talk to."

    Eastwest, if you can't talk to them, then how are they servicing customers? This doesn't make sense. Where I live we have one real brothel. It is run by the police. The going rate is 300 baht, the women are old and unattractive. The place is a dump. It has a bar, but not one you want to go into twice.

    There are several massage places where the girls employed are mostly from Laos. They don't know the first thing about massage and mostly don't pretend to. They wait outside, dressed like what they are... I have had more contact with these ladies because you can sit outside and have a beer and chat if you want. My wife too has talked to them on occassion, and sometimes you'll see them on a motorbike downtown shopping or getting something to eat. It's obvious they are there of their own volition.

    Mostly the scene is made up of Karaoke bars, and here (and in Yaso where my wife is from) the girls are mostly Thai (but some Laos as well). Here the customer base often just comes to drink and sing and that's about it. But the girls do go with customers. Again, they do not appear to be "imprisoned" and I have seen no evidence the girls are held against their will.

    Sayadian,
    I suspect the old images you have in your mind have been replaced by the Karaoke bars. I have read there was a time that daughters were sold into prostitution and forced labor in factories, but I have seen no evidence of it. Again, in my view, the issue isn't the work in factories or the prostitution, but the kidnapping and inedentured servititude. You will note here that as I said before the linkage on this issue is strongly used by the feminist movement in the west for reasons I cited.

    I do not doubt that women being forced into prostition does happen (although frankly I think this is a much more serious problem in Eastern Europe). Here, the supply situation doesn't seem to require that kind of draconian (and risky) recruitement. There are plenty of girls willing to participate for various motivations. Does it happen? I would be surprised if it doesn't. Is it germaine to the arguement? No. We all agree that kidnapping and indentured servitude are crimes already and that is what should be addressed.

    #54 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 15:56

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
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    "The son can stay at home, take over the family business and play around and the daughter(s) has/have to somehow bring in some money and my perception is then that with such a culture it could lead more easily to such criminal situations."

    I wouldn't say "criminal", but of course it does create other moral issues. But again, that is deeply tied to culture. If you want to indict the culture for this reason, go ahead. But one should not claim to respect it when, one obviously doesn't. Or put another way, one tourist might show up and enjoy the fact that he can get young, good looking women that would be impossible back home. Another might come and love the local food and idiosyncracies but hate seeing that old, fat guy with the young girl and claim he "doesn't respect the culture". What they really mean is either:

    1. They don't understand the local culture and are reading to many guide books written by know nothing, politically correct westerners.

    2. They disapprove of the local culture or at least this element of it.

    If you fit group number two, that's OK, but it puts you into a poor position when you whine about people not respect local culture when it's something that doesn't have to do with sex. Because this is a deeply ingrained part of local culture, just as the Mia Noi is.

    #55 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 16:24

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 771

    "If you want to indict the culture for this reason, go ahead."
    I never said nor implied that. I just observed that there is a part of culture that could lead to such things. And yes, I do not aprove of families sending their daughters to "work". It doesn't mean that I indict the whole culture. Just that aspect I do not like and would like to see differently. Why is that such a problem? I don't think any culture (neither asian, western or any other) is perfect. Can one not object to certain parts of culture without being villified?

    "when you whine about people"
    very classy

    #56 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 16:47

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    Eastwest
    Don't take it the wrong way. This is not some sort of personal attack. I respect both your writings and your person.

    My objection is twofold:

    1. That the arguement being made was that white men participating in this process were doing so in contravention to the local culture, which is patently absurd.
    2. That if you are going to villify white men participating in this cultural norm, you should be villifying asian men as well. To do otherwise is to be both hypocritical and racist.

    When I say "you" I do not mean you personally, but rather the generic "you". Often the british will use the phrase "one", but I find it a bit haughty.

    #57 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 17:31

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 771

    Thanks for clearing that up. "one" might be haughty but is certainly clearer.

    Both your points I understand (and agree on) but I wasn't referring to neither of the two. You're talking/writing more about the original subject and I don't have much to add to that.

    And heh, you were the one that started with the TTT to resurrect the thread. I was just trying to bring up another point to get you started. Wouldn't be much help if I posted "I agree"

    #58 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 17:45

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    Good point.

    I think then we return to the other, unspoken piece - what I call here on the travelfish the elephant in the room. I have always found it strange how, with prostitution so omni-present here (I mean, you can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting a hooker) the subject almost never comes up. I do understand that Stuart is not running a site for the mongering crowd, and catering to a crowd that is more interested in site seeing and cuisine and so forth... , but to just totally ignore it is, well, strange.

    I see guys get on here and they sound like Jesus going Backpacking. They never ask about the industry. What 25 year old kid goes on a ten week vacation getting hit on daily by good looking, willing women and doesn't get laid? I am highly suspicious of that and even more suspicious that the topic NEVER seems to come up here (well, it came up once and Stuart killed the thread). It's as if we were going to have a website on Jamaica but the subject of drugs were taboo.

    #59 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 18:00

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 771

    That I really find a good point yes. A few months ago there was a thread in "Cambodia" about (obtaining) drugs and the discussion flowed freely and given the number of views it really was a topic that many people/backpackers consider and do.

    And I think it's only for the better for TF if they inform people, or give a platform to discuss it, Both sex and drugs are major issues and all the better if people can get information here. On that drugs-thread a lot of information was given that probably helped prevent a lot of accidents as well.

    I'm sure that many male backpackers have found themselves in some sort of awkward situation with a girl in the morning after a great evening. Or they would like to discuss the subject in "politics & culture" although that might be a great clash that might be too much for TF
    If you do the honors and start a thread I will join at some point

    #60 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 18:29

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
    6th April, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    The truth is that it is unknowable what percentage of the girls prostitute themselves out of their own free will and what percent are forced. One has to assume that the 'forced' ones do not go around saying they are forced. Probable consequences from doing so. (I can say 'one' as I am British....and quite extraordinarily haughty).

    Whatever the figures, it seems rather sad to me that so many feel the only way to achieve any sort of economic stability is to sell their bodies. Whether that is with local men or tourists seems irrelevant to me. My understanding is that many of the girls prefer Western men as they are deemed kinder - plus possibly pay better and will possibly take them to a life of luxury overseas - but there you go.

    TV documentaries have often concentrated on the forced arrangements. There was one on BBC 3 in the UK just a couple of weeks ago about this issue in Cambodia. The programme was a little basic, but the problems of the girls featured looked real enough to me.

    Just one other point; it looks like all the contributors to this thread are men. Are there any women out there with a point of view ?

    #61 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 20:25

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    Except for Liz, we don't have a lot of contributors that are women that I can recall. Liz, where are you here?

    Nokka,
    Some would say the same thing about soldiering, where I risked my very existence on more than one occassion for my paycheck. Whether it is sad or not, as I have stated before, it is an option for some who otherwise would not know where the money was coming from. I've met a fair number of people in this boat - and things for them are tough. They are going without quality food, quality shelter, kids running around in worn out clothes and no shoes... that's life in most of the world and some women decide prostituting themselves is the best alternative. The world ain't a nice place - it's harsh and brual.

    #62 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 21:20

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Madmac-so the girls no longer come from up north now.I wonder why this tradition ended?I've heard about Burmese girls indentured in places near the Burmese border and like you say a lot of the girls in the Karaoke scene are from Laos.They are probably indentured as well.Just because they smile means nothing they are just putting on a brave face.
    I know one girl in Cambodia, unique in the respect that she is a highly intelligent hooker.The reason being she was married at 16 to a wealthy Taiwanese who took her around with him on his gem business.When he died his family cast her out with nothing.Despite having kept her family for years as soon as he died she was sent off by dad to make money in bars so that he and the son can sit at home all day drinking and doing nothing.Can I respect this culture.No, I can't.

    #63 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 21:50

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    Sayadian
    I do not believe they are indentured. There is zero evidence to indicate that. Also, that only applies to Mukdahan and the border provinces. It does not apply to Yasothon. If you go to Bangkok and Pattaya, the majority of the working girls are from Issan. Nor surprisingly as this is one of the poorer parts of Thailand.

    "Can I respect this culture.No, I can't."

    Anbd that's OK, as long as we're clear about it. A lot of people who live here don't respect the culture either, so why they want to live here beats me. This is an element of the culture that is difficult for us to understand, because it is so opposite where we are coming from.

    #64 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 22:43

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Perhaps it would have been bettter to say 'I can't respect this particular element of the culture' as I love many things in that part of the world.
    The other thing I don't respect is the blatant racism and xenophobia.
    OK, maybe I shouldn't be picky you might say and either swallow the whole or nothing
    I don't think being critical of some elements of a culture makes it difficult to live in it.I despise some elements of Western culture
    .All I can say in my defence is I don't preach, I just observe.

    #65 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 00:30

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 950

    There is no doubt whatsoever that trafficking does occur. There was a case early this year where 19 Lao girls were rescued from a Karaoke in Thailand - forgot exactly where - where they were being held against their will and forced to go with customers. They had gone to Thailand in the promise that they would earn a ;lot of money as cleaners etc.
    Burmese and northern Lao girls are often sold to Chinese peasant farmers as wives as there is a shortage of women in China. These things do go on.
    However the girls you see in go go bars or Mac's massage parlours are there because they want to be.. Some of them actually like the life, believe it or not.
    What I hate like Mac, is the sanctimonious crap you get from certain people, yes, often western women, who get stuck into men for their "rent a girlfriends" and get stuck into the girls for being tarts. Many of them are really nice girls, like Mac. I know quite a few.

    #66 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 07:23

  • neosho

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2008
    Posts: 386

    Rich man , poor man, who's the girl going to choose. Western girls will choose the rich one also. I did a post on a chat line several years ago just for fun. I put "Rich old man looking for young wife." You should have seen the message board light up. Funny and interesting some of the hits I received.
    Madmac, I've read where the sex scene for older western women is Kenya.
    Rufus, it seems a lot of Thai women get tricked into going to Japan. Promise of good jobs but forced to work in the brothels.
    A lot gets thrown into the melting pot called trafficing. If someone pays another person to help them get into a country, it's thrown into that pot also. Bigger numbers = more attention to the problem = more money.

    #67 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 08:37

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 950

    "I've read where the sex scene for older western women is Kenya."

    Bali I believe - the Kuta cowboys.

    "it seems a lot of Thai women get tricked into going to Japan."
    Also Korea,. Many Filipanas go to Singapore and also the Middle East.

    #68 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 09:20

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 771

    Both Bali and Kenya are right but the true destination for single older western women is Gambia.

    The biggest difference with the other two named countries is that Gambia almost exclusively caters to this group. In both Bali and Kenya the majority of the industry is focused on male customers and the catering to older western women is more a spin-off but in Gambia there is no such thing. It's just for the ladies.

    #69 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 09:56

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    There is this market, although as I understand it the ladies are strictly into the "boyfriend experience" more than the sex. Not that there isn't sex, but it isn't a required part of the "experience". I guess it's all OK as long as everyone going in knows the rules of the road and the risks they are taking. I'm not going to judge the people participating one way or another. What two consenting adults do is, in my view, up to them and not for others to caste judgement on. Unlike the SEA phenomenon, I doubt you see a lot of Ghanian women participating, however.

    #70 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 10:32

  • garagerocker

    Joined Travelfish
    17th September, 2011
    Posts: 1

    yes this happened to me in nha trang, vietnam. Im 38 , i was sitting having drinks with a vietnamese girl who is 26. Then suddenly a british girl appears across the table from us asking me " so what brought you to vietnam???? I think you are EXPLOITING THE YOUNG GIRLS HERE!! wow I guess I really flipped out I stood up and screamed at her demanding loudly HOW AM I EXPOLITING HER??? she had no reply. In fact I was living there and teaching and the girl was a friend of mine, and is 26 really considered too young for a 38 year old? wow these backpackers really need to come down off their high horses and stop judging expats until they have grown up and lived in the real world for a couple decades.

    #71 Posted: 26/10/2011 - 09:17

  • think87

    Click here to learn more about think87
    Joined Travelfish
    5th March, 2009
    Location United States
    Posts: 116

    OK so I had way too much time on my hands tonight and read this entire thread I agree with MADMAC on most points and dont have much to add the early debates but one thing came to mind about what started the thread.

    When I was in Cambodia I witnessed a young guy talking to his girlfriend about a guy sitting a few booths away from them. Both of them were from NY, they had the accent and he had a Yankees cap on. The man they were talking about happened to be with a young cambodian girl having dinner at a restaurant. For a good 5 minutes they talk **** about this guy exploiting her to themselves and i was close enough where i couldnt help hear it. Now to there credit they didnt go and say anything to the man himself but other backpackers joined in and no one had anything nice to say about the guy. heres where it gets interesting.

    Two days later as I am preparing to leave PP, I see the very same young man, this time without his american girlfriend, walking hand and hand with... you guessed it, a local girl. I would have given him the benefit of the doubt but then he slapped her ass.

    No I have no problem at all with him sleeping around personally thats his business, but the hypocrisy is crazy. He was in my opinion just going along with the bashing of the man earlier because the cultural norms he is used to at home dont allow him openly support prostitution. Its completely possible that many of the high and mighty backpackers are themselves partaking in bar girls when they feel the eyes of critical westerners are no longer watching....

    #72 Posted: 26/10/2011 - 11:13

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    Think
    You kind of hit the nail on the head concerning where the backpacker set rubs me wrong. Now, I've met my share of perfectly decent backpackers, so don't get me wrong here. You judge people one at a time, not as a group. That's not fair. But the holier than thou attitude that comes with many of them is hard to stomach. We don't get many out here, but I had a discussion with one who was going on and on about how mass tourism is bad for the environment. I then pointed out that he was a tourist. "No I'm not. I'm a 'Traveller'. Good grief.
    Or when someone who's been in country starts telling me I have to be more sensitive towards local culture and customs. What? I live here. I think I know what they are. They read something in a guide book that applied 50 years ago and think they are experts.
    Like I said, it ain't all people. Lots of backpackers are perfectly decent people who enjoy this method of tourism. Nothing wrong with that. It's only the Holy Joes that get on my nerves.

    #73 Posted: 26/10/2011 - 11:52

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